12 songs from my life

A few days ago, Kristin challenged her friends to summarize the soundtrack of their lives in 12 songs.

Next to the people and Odies I love — and maybe garage sales — music is my very favourite thing. I have several thousand CDs, 13,000 songs on my iPod, dozens of classical piano books, a musician father, and a long history of attending concerts.

Narrowing the huge pool of wonderful things my ears have experienced down to 12 measly songs was a daunting task. So with a nudge from my friend Elaine, I decided to pick songs that have been important to me over the years — not necessarily my favourite songs today — and post them in chronological order.

1. Simon and Garfunkel, Cecelia – age 6

When we first moved to our brand new house in Perkinsfield, the floors were so glossy and smooth that Alicia and I would sprint and slide across the dining room in our wool socks – inside out, for extra speed. For some reason, the game only worked with this song.

2. The Cranberries, Ode to my family – age 10ish

The first album I ever bought for myself was The Cranberries’ No Need to Argue. It was the year Santa gave me a ghetto blaster for Christmas. I would lie on my bedroom carpet, stare moodily at the ceiling, and listen to this on repeat.

3. Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt, HCQ Strut – age 12ish

Suddenly, I loved jazz. None of that newfangled modern stuff with chords that hurt my ears. Just the greats. And this particular ditty always sent me to a happy place.

4. Chet Baker, I get along without you very well – age 13ish

This man. I think I was in love with him. I dreamed of going back in time and saving him from his addictions. Then we’d buy a cottage in the mountains where he would play and sing for me all day long. I may still be in love with him! Sigh. Perfect music to dream to.

5. Beck, Nicotine and Gravy – age 15ish

I’d heard Odelay, but Midnight Vultures blew my mind. It’s still one of my “if you lived on a deserted island” albums. And this song, with its fantastic layers, was a favourite. A Beck show is still on the bucket list. To Kanye, I say suck it.

6. Radiohead, No Surprises – age 17ish

When I was at my very lowest, I started my relationship with Radiohead. I’m not sure they contributed positively to my mental health, but they made music better.

7. The Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots pt. 1 – age 19

In my first year of university, I stayed with my aunt Fina and uncle Andy for a few days because I was dying of the flu. Fina made me soup. Andy cranked the Flaming Lips. And I got better. Every once in awhile, I still dust this song off and take it for a spin.

8. Wilco, Jesus, etc. – age 20

In my second year of university, JF – lover of mopey cowboy music – stepped into my life again. He made me a mixed CD with Bright Eyes, Antony and the Johnsons, Les Cowboys Fringants, Joanna Newsom, and this song. Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky show in Toronto is one of the best concerts I’ve been to. We love them still.

9. Elliott Brood, Only at home – age 23ish

For some reason, this is still one of my very favourite driving songs. I know all the words (or sounds? Pretty tough to tell what he’s saying) and always scream at the end.

10. Vampire Weekend, M79 – age 25ish

When this album came out, my ears were delighted. Harpsichord AND synthesizer AND xylophone, all in one sound? Amazing. I remember listening to this song in JF’s tiny little bachelor apartment at Avenue and Eglinton and making fried eggs.

11. Megafaun, The Longest Day – age 27ish

These guys opened for the Mountain Goats at the Opera House and this was the most lovely moment of the evening. We held hands. The rest of their set was lackluster.

12. La Roux, Sexotheqe – present

Lately, I’ve needed a dose of musical sunshine. Here’s a song that makes me bop around on the drive to work.


What’s your soundtrack?

Blast from the past

One of the down? up? sides of owning a big, rambling house is that many things can fit in it. If you count the creepy basement, our home has four flours — plus several large closets, a garage and a shed. And some of the first people to notice this lavish storage space were my parents.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, really. The cast from when Patrick Henderson broke my pinkie finger, my extensive penny collection, and my coveted pair of six-hole Doc Martens all spent many years rotting in their basements. Literally rotting. As in, my poor Docs were covered in mould.

My mom was the first person to kindly drop off a bin of childhood surprises, including the following:

My granny square crochet sweater, porcelain doll, and sigur ros mixed cd.

My granny square crochet sweater, porcelain doll, and sigur ros mixed cd.

My high school student card and penny collection

My high school student card and penny collection

Last week, I spent an hour or two in my dad’s basement and was handed the following treasures:

Some of my favourite childhood puzzles.

Some of my favourite, strangely creepy childhood puzzles.

My Curious George alarm clock

My Curious George alarm clock

A few days ago, I received a large Rubbermaid full of old photo albums. Tucked away in a corner was my ten year old self’s most prized possessions: my marble collection.

Complete with theft-preventing inventory

Complete with theft-preventing inventory

These trips down memory lane were horrifying? pleasantly nostalgic? interesting.

I ended up putting a lot of stuff right in the garbage. Some, like my marbles, are now on display. And some I packed away in my basement, stairwell cubby, and attic closet — ready to be rediscovered when we move in a decade or two.

Me, age four.

Me, age four.

My new friend Nytol

We recently gave our notice to our landlord. We must and will be out of our Toronto apartment for September 1, 2013. Which means we must and will either buy a house or rent a place in Simcoe County sometime this summer. Blimey. This is really happening.

Or is it?

A few months ago, thinking about houses at bedtime (silk curtains, granite countertops and hardwood floors… mmmmmm) would send me first into a pleasant haze, then straight to sleep. Now, thinking about houses at bedtime induces me to take Nytol — an effective drug recently added to my pharmaceutical lexicon.

We just can’t seem to agree on what house to buy. What I love, he doesn’t. What he loves is ugly. And after ten years of renting, we just don’t want to rent anymore.

Which is why I’m moving (temporarily, I hope) into my teenhood bedroom at my mom’s Midland house in a week. From that tiny “terracotta”-painted (i.e. poo brown) shrine to my youth, I can help with my sister Alicia’s engagement party, volunteer, job hunt, go to the beach, hang out with my avó, and drive around like a crazy person in search of “for rent” and “for sale by owner” signs. My amazing mother will feed me and do my laundry.

This is my mom's house. Beautiful, but can it hold three grown women?

This is my mom’s house. Beautiful, but can it hold three grown women?

Mom, I love you. Thank you for being a regular reader of this blog. But I’m a bit scared of living with you and Geneviève. Three women, one bathroom. Plus it’s been ten years since I lived with a parent.

I started packing today and it’s harder than I thought. Just how many bags does one need for an indefinite stay in a small, storagely-challenged room?

I say indefinite stay, but there is a ray of hope in the vast gloom of this house hunt. JF and I recently set a drop dead date. On July 22, we will either make an offer on this house in Coldwater (which we both love — we would just prefer Elmvale) or choose a house to rent.

House in Coldwater that we both love. If only it was in Elmvale.

House in Coldwater that we both love. If only it was in Elmvale.

We’ve committed. Crossed our hearts. Pinky swore. But whether we will actually be able to make a decision on July 22 remains to be seen.

What I know for sure is that for the next few months, I will have a foot in both worlds. JF will be working away in Toronto while I try to start building our new life in Simcoe County.